Let me start off by pointing out that sulphur is a mineral found naturally in many kinds of foods. In winemaking it dates back to Roman times when sulphur was burnt in wine storage vessels to prevent the spoilage of wine. Sulphur is a preservative and ensures the freshness of wine by counteracting oxidation and bacterial spoilage. It is not only used in the making of wine but also to preserve other foodstuffs such as fruit juices, dried fruit and occurs naturally in tomatoes, egg yolks and even in certain types of vegetables. Sulphur is also used regularly to treat many kinds of medical conditions, notably skin conditions and even the common cold.
As with most things in life it is all about responsible use. A little sulphur is a good thing, but at certain levels it can act as an irritant and cause allergic reactions. Certain upper limits have been set for the use of sulphur in wine, and to certify a wine as organic the total sulphur has to be much lower than that found in conventional wine. At Avondale our wines are usually bottled with sulphur levels about half of what is allowed in conventional wine (the limits differ between white, red and sparkling wines), so while organic wine is not sulphur-free, it tends to have far lower levels.
Our winemaker, Corné Marais, also insists on maturing our wines without the addition of sulphur, waiting till the last moment before bottling to add a bit of sulphur, thereby ensuring the longevity of our wines and that every bottle reaches your table as a fresh and delicious wine.
For those people who do find that they have a negative reaction to wines with too much sulphur we can recommend our Avondale Brut MCC. With a total sulphur of only about 70 parts per million this is less than half of the legal limit for conventional winemaking and sure to lift the spirits of even the most sensitive of wine drinkers.